South Africa's Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO) components division, says the recent month-long walk out by sectors across the automotive industry will have a "huge impact" on future investment in the country.

Around 100,000 striking workers who downed tools in a pay dispute are slowly starting to return to work this week, although there is no formal agreement yet signed by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The staggered resumption of work nonetheless saw BMW South Africa warn yesterday (7 October) it planned to put future investment on hold following the strike, that cost the German automaker 13,000 cars in lost production.

"We are still busy quantifying [vehicles lost] at the moment, MIBCO convenor for components of South Africa, Mark Roberts, told just-auto. "It is going to have a huge impact on future investment. It is probably one of the most significant events in South Africa's automotive history that we have had such prolonged action and what we consider reckless action.

"There has been no constructive post-mortem from the union - there is a lot of rhetoric - it sends out a a terrible signal."

The MIBCO convenor added the situation - whereby South Africa suffers from huge strikes every three years or so in the automotive sector - would need to see greater involvement from the government.

"We have got to pull the government into this process and start to affiliate the political will," said Roberts. "Government involvement in this strike has been most constructive, certainly towards the end."

Roberts noted there had been a deal "in principle" to see pay rises of 10%, 8% and 8% across a three-year period, but that nothing definitive had yet been inked. "Until it is signed, it is not over," he said.

MIBCO estimates around 60%-70% of striking workers had returned to work this week.

NUMSA was not immediately available for comment.

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